The CPSC and Target have announced the recall of an entire line of wooden step stools due to the risk of collapse during use. There have been 26 reports of the stools collapsing or breaking during use, with 14 of the incidents involving children.
Looking at the stools in question, I cannot help wonder if it’s the materials used or improper joinery that led to their failure.
Small step stools are probably the most popular beginners’ woodworking projects there is. I remember building small step stools in summer camp, with my uncle as the wood shop instructor. I still have those stools, and my uncle has quite a few of his own. He occasionally gets a kick out of demonstrating the strength of the stools, which can support upwards of 250lbs.
In any case, for more information about the recall, take a look at the CPSC website.
We have one of these step stools. It is made from maple scraps (I think) that have been glued together to made boards, no problem there. They are held together with dowels, which is also fine, but the joints separate over time. My guess is that the dowels weren’t glued correctly. I wouldn’t call it improper joinery, just failure to use the right glue.
The other problem with these stools is that when they get wet they get slippery. My daughter slipped and cut her chin bad enough so that we had to go to the emergency room to get it super-glued. Our solution to that problem was to apply grip tape (somewhat like adhesive sandpaper) to the top of the steps.
I’ve thought several times about pulling ours apart to reglue it properly, but now that I see this recall, I’m going to do it this afternoon.
I suppose that makes sense also – improper gluing or glue cure time. It’s really hard to tell by just looking at the stool, so I trust your assessment.
Form the wording of the recall, it seems more like the stools were failing somewhat explosively rather than over time, and were collapsing without warning. The mode of failure may still be poor glue joints.
Well and I doub’t the stool instructions even say to glue the dowels in
I documented repairing the stool here: